Dance [on DR Thursday]

“The human race has spent several millennia developing a huge and robust set of observations about the world, in forms as varied as language, art and religion. Those observations in turn have withstood many – enormously many – tests. We stand heir to an unstatably large set of meanings.” ~ David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear

The little girl shrieked with delight, “You can stand in it!” She raced inside the dome, her little body so teeming with enthusiasm that she danced. The crowd burst into laughter.

Joy is contagious.

She reminded me of the children I saw dancing at the base of Christo’s Umbrellas. She transported me back to the very first time Kerri and I stepped off the stage after our performance of THE LOST BOY. We were euphoric, so overrun with relief and triumph that we jumped up and down in the backstage hallway, laughing and hugging. Dancing. We couldn’t help it.

I remember that moment when people ask me why I make art since art makes no money. I’ve learned to answer the question, not with words but with a smile.

Value is perceived.

I stepped into the dome repeating to myself, “You can stand in it.” A dome of light. A constellation of thought. The earth rotates around the sun. Joyful participation in the sorrows of the world. Do unto others. There is not one way, there are many paths up the mountain. Discovery is better than invention.

Meaning is made. It’s an ongoing relationship.

Sometime you know that you enter it. Sometimes you don’t know and the dome you discover evokes a joyous dance.

read Kerri’s blogpost about DOMES OF LIGHT

Iconic, 54x54IN, mixed media

[my site is down. A new site is in the works. New works are also in the works. Good things]

iconic © 2010 david robinson

Ask A Better Question [on Merely A Thought Monday]

I just erased the post I’d written for today. We often write a few days ahead so we have time to reflect on or edit what we’ve written. We’ve learned that it’s a good practice to consider what you are about to spill into the world.

It’s a good practice because it affords us the opportunity to ask, “Is this what I mean to say? Is this what I really want to say?” The post that I’d initially written was bothering me. A lot. Sipping coffee, I confessed my discomfort to my chief editor and life-collaborator (Kerri) and we followed the trail until we found the source of my chagrin.

There is a question, a much more important question, behind and beyond clarifying what I really want to say. It is this: “Is this who I want to be?” My post was making me uncomfortable because it was the opposite of what I profess to be. It was the opposite of who I understand myself to be. Of who I want to be.

I’ve often written and taught about “the spaces between.” Relationship. Intuition. Heart. Facts and data require interpretation and live on the spectrum at the farthest point away from wisdom. Focus on the spaces between, the movement rather than the noun, and an entirely different life opens. Wisdom is more like water than stone.

Most cliches touch a truth-root and today that is the case for me: We teach what we most need to learn. Thank goodness my editor was around to gently slap open my eyes and help me ask myself a better question.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE SPACES

Don’t Panic! [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Let us first deal with the sub-story of this cartoon, storyline B. When drawing, it is completely possible for me to respond to questions AS IF I am really listening without ever hearing a word. Call it a gift or a flaw as you will. I call it a defense mechanism or a survival skill. My focus is myopic. I’ve had to develop certain protections that enable me to stay in the story. Otherwise I lose the thread. Kerri will confirm my selective hearing.

As for the primary story, storyline A, have you ever thought you lost your sunglasses and found them resting on your head? Have you ever raced around looking for your keys only to notice that you are holding them? It’s a universal experience.

Despite what we might assume, it’s not an age thing. Looking for your phone while holding it isn’t a sign of impending dementia. It’s a sign of panic. Panic comes with blinders.

My only question is this: why am I experiencing more incidents of panic as I age? And, why can’t I find my pencil? Oh, wait…

read Kerri’s blogpost on this saturday morning smack-dab.

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Connect The Dots [on Two Artists Tuesday]

A curious sentiment painted on the concrete support wall of a busy overpass in a burgeoning city. Crumbling cement sidewalks, hard asphalt, steel cable supports securing a post just outside of the picture frame. A message about bridges painted beneath a bridge.

People hustle by as if there was no time to spare. They drive fast over and around the curious sentiment. The painter-of-the-sentiment placed it adjacent to a stoplight. Perhaps, while revving their engine, awaiting the return of the green light, a motorist might turn and read the thought. Perhaps the motorist might breathe it in. Perhaps the motorist might consider the message as they passed beneath the bridge.

What gets you from here to there? From birth to death? Amidst the hard realities of the road, the steel cables, the thoughtless people whizzing passed, the persevering grasses pushing through the cracks in the cement, the litter at your feet? A thirteenth century Sufi poet thought it important enough to write about it. A twenty-first century painter thought it important enough to paint the poem on a wall.

People across time and cultures have thought it necessary to place significant messages on walls. Aspirations and appeals to our better nature. A compass pointing the way for what might be, what exists but goes largely unseen. The primary thing. Every parent knows this bridge beyond the abstraction of a message on the wall. Every time rings are exchanged, vows spoken, the unseen is understood.

The hawk landed on the fence. Kerri met its eyes and they stared at each other for what seemed a very long time. Divisions disappeared. Forms fell away. Life experienced life.

Just try and place a word on that experience! A Sufi-poet tried. A contemporary street artist thought it necessary to paint the sentiment on a hard wall. What bridge connects the poet and the painter?

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE BRIDGE

Discover It [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

The mist from the falls danced with the sunlight. Waterfall aura. Waterfall halo. We stood in the bands of color and laughed. Full body color tickle.

And then, a hush of utter appreciation. We listened to the chamber music of rushing water over the edge of rock. It was so beautiful there was nothing to be done but to close our eyes. Drink it in. Mist on our faces.

And then, we continued upward. The trail was steep so our steps were slow.

Krishnamurti wrote that, “To find out what is truth there must be great love and a deep awareness of (hu)man’s relationship to all things – which means that one is not concerned for one’s progress and achievements.”

In his book, Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse wrote that for every truth there exists an opposite truth. We humans are largely resistant to grasping both sides of wholeness. We like to be right so we tend to “fix” our half-truth in white-knuckled abstractions. Lost in our minds and paging through our rulebook-for-living, we miss the fullness of our relationship to all that surrounds us.

Standing by the waterfall, slowly climbing the mountain, it was easy to love our relationship to all things. The trail brought quiet to our minds. Each step, moment to moment, a full vibrant discovery of truth.

read Kerri’s blogpost about WATERFALL HALO

Chisel [on DR Thursday]

The conversation in the car was about astrology. I am an Aquarius. Confusingly, the water-bearer is an air sign. Kerri is Aries; fire. “Air is necessary for fire,” she laughed. As in most metaphors and models, each element transforms the others. It’s creation-in-motion. Life is a great shapeshifter. A single element is undefinable without the others.

The same is true with people. We only know who we are relative to the others in our lives. The heat of our relationships transform us. Transformation is a daily reality, a common experience, but so ubiquitous that it goes unseen. We only notice it when the volcano erupts or when we wake up one day and say to ourselves, “I am different now.”

The beautiful canyons in Utah were, over eons, carved by water. Zion. Arches. The Grand. Everyday, water meets earth. Heat and wind. Sculpture.

Long drives bring reminiscence. Something sparked our conversation about the canyons we’ve carved in our lives. Everyday, trickles of water. Relationship. Slow, almost imperceptible changes. One day, after years and years, you look in the mirror and see the colors revealed by erosion and time. The chiseled shape. Pieces and parts that felt essential, washed away. What remains?

Beautiful. Crucial. Elemental. Still transforming.

read Kerri’s blogpost about WATER

face the rain © 2019 david robinson

Be The Feast [on DR Thursday]

This time of year, if you want to walk the Des Plaines river trail, do it early in the day. The mosquitoes come out in the afternoon. They are vicious little critters.

The Des Plaines mosquitoes are subject to one of the great mysteries in my life. At home – in fact, everywhere else on the planet – the mosquitoes prefer Kerri. I can be mosquito-free while she’s a mosquito-buffet. Not true at Des Plaines. Those wicked flying needles feast on me and give her a pass. Why?

Last week we started our walk a little later than planned. It’s as if the folks in the Des Plaines control room throw a switch. One moment, there’s not a mosquito to be found. The next moment, the mosquito dinner bell is rung and I am the main course. I run-walk, slap and silly dance my way back to the relative safety of the car. Kerri walks leisurely asking, “Are there any on me?”

It’s been a great equalizer in our relationship. For years, in the early summer evenings, writhing, she asks in desperation, “Are you getting bitten?” My smug response has always been, “No. Are they out?” Now, as I wiggle and swat my way through the forest, she strolls and smiles and asks, “What’s the matter?”

Equalizer. Compassion-builder. Though, now I understand why she suggested a later start for our walk in the woods. “What about the mosquitoes?” I asked.

She smiled.

read Kerri’s blogpost about MOSQUITOES

earth interrupted I © 2012 david robinson

Remember [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

It’s taken some time but Kerri has, at last, taught me a hard-to-learn-lesson: when I am to listen versus when I am to listen and give voice to a thought (sometimes known as “Offer advice”).

The challenge: the cues are not readily apparent. To misread the cue is to unleash certain havoc.

This, in a nutshell, is what I’ve learned: In 100% of the cases, listen and nod. Say nothing that is not the verbal equivalent of a nod. These moments that seem-to-my-eyes like problems-to-be-solved are never what they appear.

Boil the nutshell down to its essence: nothing needs solving. There are no solutions required so don’t offer any. There are only four words that are universally useful. It. Will. Be. Okay. (variation: We. Can. Do. It) (Bonus word: Together).

Now, if only I’d remember my hard-learned-lesson when I most need it. Remembering is not so easy.

read Kerri’s blogpost about ZEN-GEN!

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Overflow With Artistry [On Two Artists Tuesday]

Sitting amidst the boxes that currently fill my studio space, I realized that I’m rolling into the third year since I’ve completed a painting. I’ve been staring at the same canvas set on my easel for a very long time. Broken wrists, the pandemic, another broken wrist, lost jobs and economic free fall initiated an era of blank canvases.

I’ve done this almost every day for two years. I stand at the edge of the boxes. I look at the large canvas layered with undertones of red, covered with layers of tissue, preparing the ground for the image. Charcoal sketch marks barely visible, images I drew and wiped away. I suppose it’s not accurate to say the canvas is blank.

My sketchbook is closed. It sits on the table next to the easel. If I opened it, on the last pages, I would find rough sketches for the painting. Ideas in rude pencil scribbles.

Memory is an organizing principle. A story plot line. We make sense of today based on how we organize our memories into a tellable tale. Looking at the canvas is like looking into a mirror and I ask myself what made me pick up a pencil the very first time. The small-boy-me was seeking. “Running or seeking?” I ask. My studio has always served as a sanctuary. A place where I found quiet, made sense of the chaotic world. “Running or seeking?” I ask again.

Staring at the canvas I should feel loss but I don’t. Each morning, Kerri and I sit next to each other and write. This is the 232nd consecutive week that, five days a week, we’ve written together. She edits what I write, makes suggestions, and I do the same for her. We produce a cartoon every week. For my work I’m also drawing a series of cartoons that, after I script and draw final drafts, I hand them off to Kerri. She digitizes them and, quite literally, adds elements that improves them. I’m not empty of artistry but full to overflowing. I no longer need to retreat to enter my sanctuary.

It’s hard to know where my work ends and hers begins. They are ours. A perfect collaboration. Two as one.

Last week we had a fence installed. Invasive neighbors, throwing rocks at Dogga, lobbing toys into our pond, we’d finally had enough. The fence felt like reclamation of space. The impact was immediate. We hadn’t realized how completely the space invaders – like broken wrists and job losses, had interrupted every rhythm and pattern of our life. Basking in our space – our space – Kerri started to laugh and point. Two birds, lawn art purchased in a small town on our long drive from Seattle, always in our yard but always barely seen, we’d hastily placed them next to the new fence. “Two birds, one shadow,” she said, jumping up to snap a photo.

“Two birds. One shadow,” I repeated her words. I’ll take it as an affirmation. A new fence. A new era. All the world is my studio. My sanctuary. It’s what the small-boy-me was seeking all along.

read Kerri’s blogpost about TWO AS ONE

Live The Words [on Merely A Thought Monday]

We awake each morning to birdsong. I imagine the birds’ song raises the spirit of the sun. Or, the birds sing because the sun raises their spirits. Both are good stories.

When I was in college I had a professor who seemed a bit radical. Now I recognize that he was not radical. He was a scientist and his data was prophetic. He was sounding an alarm for his students, knowing that his students could not yet hear him. He was the first person to introduce me to the notion of climate change. At the time, the world was still smarting from the oil crisis of the 1970’s. One day in class he said, ‘If you think the oil wars are bad, just wait until the water wars.” I heard his voice this morning while looking at photographs of Lake Mead and the river Po. Dwindling water meets rising population. Panic is in the air. In the meantime, Australia is drowning. Desperation is on the rise.

I like to imagine the birds raising the sun while the sun raises the song in the birds. It’s a story of interconnectivity. It’s to understand the question, ‘what causes what?’ – as a two way street. You impact your environment and your environment impacts you. Or, better stated, you and your environment are not separate events. (“The love you take is equal to the love you make.” ~ The Beatles)

Though he never used the word, “interconnectivity” was the construct my seeming-radical professor was asking us to consider. He understood that his students were products of a long tradition of disconnection. A dedicated delusion of dominance over nature ruled our construct and he was attempting to puncture that absurdity bubble. Pour toxins into your river and your water will poison you. Pour carbon into your air and your air will eventually pour carbon into you.

The same applies to governance and society in general. What we pour into it is what we will experience as it. H wrote that, “Politics is simply the exercise of being a good neighbor for the sake of the neighborhood.” Interconnectivity. For the sake of the neighborhood. Demonize your neighbor and they will, in turn, demonize you. Refuse to listen to your neighbors and they will refuse to listen to you. Pour guns into your community and your community will inevitably aim its guns at you. Lie to gain power and the lie will gain power over you.

Pour support, service, acceptance, consideration…into your community and it will respond in kind. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is not so complicated a concept when seen through the lens of interconnectivity. Kindness begets kindness. Acceptance begets acceptance. Honesty begets honesty. Intend it. Practice it.

These are easy words to say. Living the words is quite another story. Unless you happen to be a bird, singing the sun awake as the sun pours its rejuvenating warmth over your song.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THIS DAY AND AGE